Wallowa Mountains Hells Canyon Trails Association

Board & Staff

Russ West, Board Chair

Russ West and his wife Mary have been hiking and packing in the Eagle Cap Wilderness and the Bob Marshall Wilderness in Montana for the past 32 years. They have horses and mules, and enjoy using them to support projects. They believe that both foot soldiers and the cavalry are needed to maintain our trails. They also enjoy the freedom and flexibility of backpacking. 

Russ enjoys gravity sports like mountain biking (not in the wilderness, of course) and back country skiing in the Elkhorn and Wallowa Mountains. Mary is a great camp cook and also likes to work on the trails.

Russ was a district attorney for Union County for 18 years, then circuit judge for Union and Wallowa counties for 15 years until he retired in 2018. He is now a senior judge and works 35 days a year. While attending law school Russ worked as a smokejumper for five years. Russ and Mary have a timber stand which they enjoy managing. One of Russ‘s favorite activities is logging. 

Jim Akenson, Vice Chair

Jim’s career has been heavily tied to mountains, wilderness, and backcountry travel. As a field station manager/scientist for the University of Idaho, he has been a wilderness skills instructor – stock use – for USFS wilderness rangers and packers, for Idaho Fish & Game conservation officers, and many university students over the past three decades. His specialty is packing mules in remote places, doing heavy work with mules in harness, and mentoring all ages on traditional backcountry skills.

For 21 years (year-round) he lived within the Frank Church Wilderness in Idaho 35 miles from a road-end. As a job necessity, he traveled and cleared trails during all seasons, starting in 1982 and ending in 2010. In his early professional years, he was a wilderness planner for the BLM during the Hells Canyon review process for the southern boundary expansion of Hells Canyon Wilderness.

He also has been in leadership positions in several 501C3 organizations, including nationally as: Executive Director of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, President of the Professional Bowhunters Society, and currently as the statewide Conservation Director for the Oregon Hunters Association.

Randi Jandt, Secretary

Randi Jandt has worked as a firefighter, wildlife biologist, and fire ecologist—much of that time in Alaska.

Elnora Cameron, Treasurer

Elnora has been returning to the Wallowas for over 20 years since driving the Nez Perce National Historic Trail in 2001, and starting that trip in Wallowa County.  She is now a permanent resident.  Before she retired in 2019, she was an executive with a health care system, responsible for strategic planning, marketing, hospital construction, and contracts with health plans. She loves living among Ponderosa pines, close to two of the main trail heads into Eagle Cap, and is thrilled to share land with wild animals.  And one domestic one! 

Linda Rooper, Board Member

Linda and her husband, Ross, have called Wallowa County “home” since they honeymooned here in August of 1977. Two of their four boys were born in the old Wallowa Memorial Hospital where Wallowa Resources now resides. Linda works summers for the US Forest Service Recreation Department as well as caring for her elderly mother at home. Other US Forest Service assignments have taken her to the edge of the Frank Church wilderness to study osprey, the eastern Oregon high desert to study sage grouse, and the Hells Canyon NRA to study riparian vegetation.

Many of Linda’s positions have provided high adventure, such as five seasons chasing wildfires across the West, pest control in the Yellowstone Basin, and as a wilderness ranger (with her 17-year-old son) in the Eagle Cap Wilderness.  Linda is an outdoor girl who loves the country. She served as a recreation compliance officer along the Metolius River of Central Oregon, the Payette River of Central Idaho, and most recently developed recreation in the Wallowa Valley and Hells Canyon NRA. She enjoys skiing, hiking, camping, hot springs, church, family, gardening, and being an active board member of WMHCTA.

Lora Tennant, Board Member

Lora grew up on a small farm in rural West Virginia, where she learned to love the forests, hills, and streams. Lora moved to Wallowa County in October 2017 to work as a fisheries biologist with the Nez Perce Tribe. 

Prior to moving to NE Oregon, Lora spent the last 12-15 years working throughout the western United States from the desert southwest to southwest Alaska. Wherever she has been over the years, the local trail systems have been an important part of her daily life. She is happy to have settled in an area rich in mountains, canyons, prairies, and a trail network that connects them. She is grateful to have the opportunity to help maintain the extensive network of trails in the Wallowa Mountains and Hells Canyon. 

In addition to hiking, backpacking, and trail running, Lora also enjoys backcountry snowboarding, crosscountry skiing, fishing, reading, cooking, gardening, and spending time with her family (including her four-legged fur child).

Bob Pace, Board Member

Bob was born and raised in Enterprise and wouldn’t trade growing up in The County for anything. He fished, hunted, hiked, and backpacked into the High Lakes when time permitted. After college and getting married, he and his wife Mary Kay moved to Nevada to teach, coach, raise their kids, mine some, and learn to love the desert country of the Great Basin. They moved “Home” in 2017 and found WMHCTA. Mary Kay and Bob enjoy being members of WMHCTA for all that it has to offer. The icing on the cake is the friends that they’ve made and the good work that they've accomplished. 

Brent Lewis, Board Member

Brent Lewis is a retired CPA and life-long resident of Union County. He has been active in the community, is an avid outdoorsman and appreciative of our environment. He feels maintaining our system of trails provides opportunity for others to experience and enjoy the solitude and beauty of our area.

Rick Bombaci, Board Member

Rick Bombaci has lived in Wallowa County since 1980, where he has made a living in varied guises:  high school teacher, computer professional, small business owner, business consultant, non-profit director, and USFS wilderness ranger.

 

An avid long-distance hiker and mountaineer, Rick has more than 5,000 miles of backpacking under his belt, including long distance hikes in the Colorado Rockies, the Sierra Nevada, the Canadian Rockies, and on the Appalachian Trail (GaMe 2000). As a wilderness ranger, he has hiked extensively in the Hells Canyon and Eagle Cap wilderness areas.

 

In addition to hiking, Rick's interests include art, literature, music, and his grandson.

Holly Akenson, Board Member

Holly Akenson is a founding member of WMHCTA. She is committed to keeping our wilderness trails in good condition after experiencing first-hand the difficulty of wilderness travel due to deferred maintenance. Holly has volunteered on trail work with WMHCTA since 2017 and served as its first Treasurer. Holly's favorite way to experience the wilderness is riding and packing her mules.


Holly was raised in Eastern Oregon and did her first backpacking trips in the Eagle Cap and Hells Canyon in the 1970s. She had a career as a wildlife biologist, working in Eastern Oregon and Idaho studying wolves, cougars, bighorns, and birds, and teaching university students wilderness skills and ecology. Holly and husband Jim lived in a log cabin in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness for 21 years managing University of Idaho's Taylor Ranch Field Station. Holly enjoys working with her search dog Cider and Wallowa County Search and Rescue, mule riding, hunting, gardening and nature study.


Morgan Olson, Board Member

Born and raised in Oregon, Morgan grew up in the Gresham area and then moved to LaGrande to attend college at Eastern Oregon University.  He graduated from Oregon State University with a degree Range Management and Crop Science.

Morgan is involved in a number of outdoor related groups which support public access for hunting and fishing...

In his spare time you will find Morgan in a drift boat stocking trout and steelhead, leading a pack string, running his hounds, hunting and fishing across the Western US and around the world.

Hanley Jenkins II, Board Member

Hanley has enjoyed hiking, packing, hunting and skiing in the Wallowa and Blue Mountains for over 47 years and appreciates the need to maintain backcountry trails. Growing up in the mid-west were there is no wilderness and very little public land he understands the need for and has worked to create public access for all users.

Hanley was the Union County Planning Director for 36 years and was involved in the purchase of the Mt. Emily Recreation Area and the Grande Ronde River Greenway near La Grande. He served 8 years on the Oregon Land Conservation & Development Commission and 10 years on the Oregon Energy Facility Siting Council. He is retired, lives with his lovely wife Deb on 10 acres near Cove and thinks of the Wallowas as an extension of his back yard.   


Lantz Hughes, Board Member

Lantz grew up in N.E. Oregon. Spent many early years keeping up with older  siblings in the Eagle Caps, mostly  in Bear creek above Wallowa. Lantz's grande parents owned a cabin near the end of bear creek road. That said, all family vacations, hunting, fishing, and horsing around took  place in that  canyon. Lantz father  was adamant about protecting the back country of eastern Oregon. And remembers helping his dad (Loren) entertain folks  that had the same interests in wilderness protection. " If my father felt  you had not been there, you need to go and see for yourself why it needed protection." Lantz has great passion for the back country his father set aside for future generations. "Dad didn't make these wilderness areas for us not to enjoy" Maintenance on the trails into Wilderness areas is vital for everyone to get in and understand why it is wilderness today. Lantz is employed with ODOT. You can see him installing hwy signs throughout NE Oregon, and plowing snow near Egin. He also will disappear in  the Idaho Wilderness areas time to time. 

Pam Frolander, Board Member

Bio coming soon.

Staff Members

Mike Hansen, Project Director

Mike Hansen has worked and recreated extensively in the Eagle Cap, and Wenaha-Tucannon Wildernesses, as well as in the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area since 1990.  He primarily travels the backcountry by backpack, but has used horses and mules on occasion.  

Mike also enjoys big game hunting, photography, birdwatching, butterfly watching, and sharpening crosscut saws.  His experience with rope rescue in Search and Rescue work got him interested in climbing and trimming trees as a hobby.  

Mike retired after spending the past 23 years working in the backcountry of Wallowa County as a wildlife biologist for Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.   He has also volunteered for Wallowa County Search and Rescue for the past 25 years.  Since retiring from ODF&W Mike has spent time traveling, backpacking, and administering a community science project on iNaturalist – the Northeast Oregon Beaver Survey.  

Nikki Beachy, Outreach Coordinator

 A mother to three sons, Nikki enjoys many outdoor activities including backpacking, camping, and working as a local folk & glass artist.   

Nikki is from the Rocky Mountain foothills of northern Colorado.  After growing up on a small ranch, her interests took her to Tibet where she lived and studied various languages for seven years at Qinghai University for Nationalities. After meeting her husband Mike in Tibet, she returned to further her education in natural resources in Oregon. She’s worked in a variety of settings, with emphasis on ecology, communications, and the arts. 


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